Greenpoint, October, 2015

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No Place for Art

Howard Beale rode the 7 train
Good to have the 7 back after three (or is it four) weekends with no service to Manhattan, I thought as I came down the stairs to the platform at Time Squares last night. Hmm, two trains in the station both marked local. I should have known something was wrong. Sure enough, a couple minutes later the announcement: "No 7 train service between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza. As an alternate...." It's back up the stairs, find a path through the confusion, and squeeze onto an N train just before it pulls out. Not bad. Doors open at Queensboro Plaza: "Because of a smoke condition, there are no 7 trains between Queensboro Plaza and 74th St.-Roosevelt Ave. at this time." Why didn't I wait for an R?

(Courtesy The Dirt)
Alright, I've done this dance before. Instead of heading for the south side of QP and lining up with all the cattle for a 32 bus, I use the overpass to the north side and strike out for Northern Boulevard and that lonely R-M station. Getting across those lanes feeding onto the Queensboro (Ed Kock) Bridge is another story. I make it to the traffic island, which appears to have transformed itself into a ghostly Eastern European Jewish cemetery of tightly packed headstones jutting up at irregular angles. I find a path through to the middle, but it dead ends. I can see a cab with his on-duty light lit on Northern. I clamber over the stones and into the street. Breathless: "85th Street and Roosevelt?" "Sure." Instead of going straight towards Queens Boulevard he bears right, thinking I meant 85th St. in Manhattan. "Queens!" Too late. "I can't get off this now. Sorry, brother." He's right, there's no exit from the access road to the bridge. I get out.

I'm right back where I started. As loud as I can, I shout "Fuck the MTA." It echoes through the plaza. Then it's back through the cemetery. This time I catch a cab as it comes off Queens Boulevard in time to make the right onto Northern. And I'm home ten minutes later.

The cemetery turns out to be a piece of public art that's part of the Queens Plaza Bicycle and Pedestrian Landscape Improvement Project. The broken concrete slabs cover 14,000 feet of "unusable space" between traffic lanes. It's meant to deter pedestrians like me from crossing, for our own safety. Just one question: If it's meant to keep pedestrians away, why is there a little pathway to the center as if this were one of those meditation mazes?

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